At the age of 32, as a fast career professional at Philips, I was leading a workshop when I suddenly started shaking. I grabbed a chair, felt a huge sting in my chest, had quivers all over my body. I went to see a doctor who quickly diagnosed the problem: pneumonia. The consequence of neglecting all signs and just pushing forward. I had spent nights in a row preparing a prospectus and roadshow presentation for a $1 billion stock exchange listing of our joint venture in Korea. My father, an internist at the hospital, saw my X-ray and said: “Not even sixty years ago you would certainly have died. It is about time you start to listen to your body”.
And suddenly I was sentenced to stay in bed. Oceans of time to ponder on the question: why did this happen? And even more important: What do I need to change to prevent this from happening again? The insight I gained was that I cannot enforce results by simply pushing harder and ignoring my well-being.
Helped by penicillin I was able to attend an executive leadership program after some time. Part of the program was a session on self mastery, and the integration of mind, body and spirit within a corporate setting. We were taught a number of simple exercises and meditations. For the first time I experienced that by simply regulating my breath, I felt far more balanced and at ease.
In the years that followed, I successfully progressed through the executive ranks at Philips. In my private time, I walked a long journey of discovery. I learned how the mind actually works and how to influence my autonomous nervous system. As I learned to listen to my body, I also learned how to listen to the organizations I was leading, as organizations are living organisms, too. I experimented with coaching techniques, giving employees more autonomy and responsibility. I watched what worked and looked for better ways if it did not turn out the way I had imagined.
In 2009, the Head of International Sales called me into his office and said: ‘I want you to lead a reorganization of all sales and service teams worldwide. The assignment is to become more customer focused and reduce cost by 5%.’ While I was proud to be given this opportunity, soon the sheer magnitude of this assignment scared the living daylights out of me, as this implied touching 6,000 jobs worldwide. ‘How can I reduce cost and at the same time serve customers better?’ it puzzled me. I realized I had to get the very best out of people. I had to create a framework in which everyone felt they were fully empowered to be truly entrepreneurial. I decided to mirror the cell structure of any living organism. We decentralized the national sales teams in every country into districts of 35 people and gave them full autonomy to be entrepreneurial. This created an optimal team size for people to build on each other’s strengths and compensate each other’s weaknesses. The impact was even bigger than I had expected. Wow! The results were beyond my wildest dreams. Customers and employees were super excited and felt truly acknowledged, we brought cost down well beyond the target and even grew sales significantly by the second year.
This success laid the foundation for my career as a Transformer. In the past decade I have led lots of different organizations and guided each one of them to high engagement levels and sustainable strong performance. In 2015, I accepted an assignment to transform part of our Supply Chain organization. We were facing very high absenteeism (7%) and low motivation numbers at our order management department, and were not meeting the key business metric: to book 95% of all orders within 48 hours. I wanted to ensure we implemented the right sequence of steps. I got in contact with Lars van Tuin, a renowned team coach & trainer, who was doing academic research in this field. This turned out to be a very fruitful collaboration. We combined all of our experience and academic evidence and developed the success formula for leadership transformation: The 8-step Leadership4Impact™ program. We finetuned the program with the transformation of my order management department. It proved to be very powerful. In only 8 months’ time we reduced absenteeism to just above 2%, boosted motivation well above the target line and nailed the business metric of orders booked within 48 hours at a 97% level. I was extremely proud of our great teams who responded so positively to the empowerment they were given.
I am making this knowledge available to you as I want you, and your employees even more so, to experience the miracle of enjoying work to the fullest while creating magnificent impact. We have established a strong network of experienced trainers, consultants and coaches who are eager to help you transform your organization into an 'earthly paradise'.
If you are a leader who is eager to learn and determined to have a positive impact on your people, and the planet we live on, I would love to work with you. Kindly use the contact form to request a one-on-one introductory conversation, without any obligation. At the end of the meeting, we will agree on the next steps to take, if you decide to get on board. We will use Skype or Zoom for this conversation, or have a face-to-face meeting if our travel schedules allow.
I look forward to an impact-full journey together!